Cutting-Edge Reports

Cutting-Edge Reports

CRISPR gets crisper: Editing DNA at the single-base level

by Robin Floyd

Life, for all its complexity, is built upon a relatively simple code, comprising only four letters – the chemical bases in the DNA molecule, adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C) and thymine (T) – in intricate sequences many millions of letters long. Ever since the discovery of DNA, a holy grail for biologists has been the ability to re-write gene sequences to our own purposes. In recent years, the genome-editing technology known as CRISPR has made several leaps forward in this regard.

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Cracking the human genetic code: a scientific breakthrough amidst ethical dilemmas

by Lorenzo Orietti

Since its advent, CRISPR-Cas9 has revolutionised scientific research allowing scientists to precisely modify specific genomic regions in different species and in a variety of biological systems. In the last few months, two articles published in Nature took this technology a step further and reported its first ever application to viable human embryos.

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Unboiling egg whites is only the beginning

by Cally Xiao

More than two years have passed since researchers pioneered a technique to unboil egg white proteins, resulting in a media frenzy that intrigued the public. This technique is now being applied to explore other avenues of protein research, and has the potential to be a game-changer in the pharmaceutical industry.

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Frozen Images: how cryo-electron microscopy won the 2017 Nobel Prize for chemistry

by Robin Floyd

At the chemical level, all life is built upon the interplay of complex molecules; a tiny, intricate universe whose inhabitants remain mostly invisible to us. However, a technique called cryo-electron microscopy has enabled scientists to extract images of biological molecules at an unprecedented level of detail, for which Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank and Richard Henderson were recently awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize for chemistry.

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CRISPR/Cas gene editing in lab-grown mini organs: The intersection of two new applications to study hard-to-tackle diseases

by Cally Xiao

CRISPR/Cas gene editing technology has taken the world by storm, while lab-grown mini-organs, also known as organoids, have steadily grown in their experimental potential to model their respective organs. Recently, a few research groups have started to combine both techniques, such as the team led by Dr. Deyou Zheng at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the United States, who used CRISPR/Cas to study genetic implications of autism in brain organoids. Combining these techniques opens up new possibilities to study diseases and uncover new therapeutic targets.

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